WASHINGTON (Dec. 6)
The selection by the Democratic majority in the House of Representatives today of Rep. Thomas P. O’Neill of Massachusetts as the new Speaker of the House presages continued strong leadership in the lower chamber of support for Israel and Soviet Jewry.
While outgoing speaker. Carl Albert of Oklahoma, who retired from Congress, is well regarded by Jewish communal leaders for his undeviating support of those causes. O’Neill is seen as among the most vigorous advocates and most outspoken backers of Israel and Soviet emigration.
As the Democratic Majority Leader in the House. O’Neill sponsored the resolution for continued shipment of Phantom jets to Israel when it was hard pressed for aircraft in the Yom Kippur War. With Rep. Sidney Yates, his veteran Illinois colleague, O’Neill sponsored the resolution that gained the support of-all but one of the 435 members of the House in its condemnation of the United Nations General Assembly for its anti-Zionist resolution.
He also was the leader in the move in the House to condemn the anti-Zionist declaration when it was in the Assembly’s Social, Humanitarian and Cultural Committee and before it went to the General Assembly.
O’Neill’s leadership was shown in the resolution that warned that the U.S. would leave the UN if it suspended Israel’s membership. He also led in the legislation that extended the budget act by which the Administration was enabled to provide funds for Israel to be in conformity with the budget. The funds related to the 1976 fiscal year’s foreign aid allocation of $2.2 billion for Israel.
The 64-year-old O’Neill, whose home is in Cambridge, was unopposed for Speaker. He has been in the House since 1953 and was elected to his 12th term last month.